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Halle Berry

Born August 14, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio, Halle Maria Berry was raised by her mother Judith, a psychiatric ward nurse, with her older sister Heidi. Judith's husband, Halle's father, walked out on her family when she was only four years old.

Although living in a single parent household was somewhat tough, Halle's mom managed to move the family out of the inner city neighborhood and into the suburbs of Cleveland. Because the neighborhood was predominantly white, Halle and her sister were treated cruelly because of their dark skin.

Determined not to let the color of her skin get the better of her, Halle made it a point to make friends, while her dream of becoming an actress had already begun to surface.

By the time Halle reached high school, she was a cheerleader, an honor society member, editor of the school paper, and class president. Not surprisingly, she was crowned her high school's prom queen.

In 1983, when she was only 17 years old, Halle's boyfriend at the time entered her name in the Miss Teen Ohio beauty pageant. Once again, it's no surprise that Halle got to wear the crown in that competition.

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Halle Berry

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But it didn't stop there, Halle won many other high-profile competitions, including Miss Teen All American, Miss USA and Miss World. Once she was done raking in points by winning pageant after pageant, Halle continued her education at Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College in 1986, studying broadcast journalism.

Unfortunately, Halle didn't complete her degree -- she left the program to pursue a more glamorous career in modeling, and started studying acting in Chicago. Although Halle auditioned for soap opera and drama guru Aaron Spelling for a part in Charlie's Angels and didn't get the part, Spelling encouraged Halle to pursue her dreams of being an actress.
Halle picked up and moved to Manhattan, where she immediately landed her first TV gig called Living Dolls. Although the show was short-lived, Halle was more determined than ever to become a great actress.
Halle got her first big break in 1989, when Spike Lee cast her as a crack-addicted woman in Jungle Fever, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson. She was so determined to execute the role perfectly that Halle actually interviewed real addicts and stopped bathing ten days before filming the racially charged film.

Soon after that, Halle reverted back to television and had a recurring role on the popular nighttime soap opera, Knots Landing, in 1991. But the big screen was Halle's goal and she soon landed another part, this time playing the exotic girlfriend of Damon Wayans in the film The Last Boy Scout, which also starred Bruce Willis.

As with her Jungle Fever role, Halle delved into this role wholeheartedly, so much so that she convinced a Hollywood strip-club owner to let her dance on stage.

In 1993, Halle landed a starring role opposite none other than the comedy man himself, Eddie Murphy in Boomerang. This is the same year that she met, fell in love with, and married Atlanta Braves right fielder David Justice. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived and they divorced a few years later.

But on a happier note, Halle became engaged to soul singer Eric Benet in 1999, and eventually married the R&B singer and actor in 2001.

It was her riveting big-screen role as an illiterate addict who abandons her child in a garbage can in Losing Isaiah that shot Halle's star up high. She decided to take a lighter acting job after that and starred in the 1994 movie The Flintstones. Unfortunately for Halle, she missed the role of a lifetime when she passed up the lead in the film Speed, which ultimately worked wonders for Sandra Bullock's career.

Other movies that Halle starred in include Executive Decision (1996); Race the Sun (1996); B*A*P*S (1997); a TV mini-series called The Wedding (1998), Bulworth (1998); and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, for which she won a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV movie.

More recently, Halle starred in the live film adaptation of the cartoon strip X-Men, as Storm/Ororo Munroe -- along with fellow mutants Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Famke Janssen -- and she presently makes a whopping $2.5 million for each film role she accepts. She has also returned to modeling, as a spokeperson for Revlon. Because Halle was diagnosed with diabetes not too long ago, she is an avid volunteer of the Juvenile Diabetes Association.

Unfortunately, Halle made headlines when she was charged with a hit and run in 2000, and pleaded no contest -- the judge ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service. She also made the news when she was allegedly payed a $500,000 bonus to reveal her breasts in a scene in 2001's hacker film, Swordfish.

Audiences can see more of Halle (not her breasts) in the film Monster's Ball, as well as the second installment of what looks like an X-Men franchise, set for a 2002 release.

Halle has accomplished much fame and fortune in her professional career, but it's evident that she's going to be around for quite a long time.

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